2012 Pod Projections: Dustin Ackley

On Monday, I posted an introduction to my forecasting method for hitters that I developed to help me in my fantasy leagues. I do not actually project any statistics besides the five fantasy categories and those that lead to the calculation of them. As a result, no walks and on base percentage, doubles and slugging percentage or wOBA from me. So just a heads up if anyone wanted to hear what OPS I am projecting, sorry, but I have no projection!

Since I am going in alphabetical order in my projections and haven’t gotten very far, I have decided to start with Dustin Ackley. He is quite the interesting player to project as Jeff Zimmerman is not a fan and Chad Young suggested fantasy owners pass on him and wait for Jason Kipnis later. Early mock drafters aren’t overly optimistic, as his ADP sits at 133, which is the beginning of the 12th round 11th among second basemen.

Now let’s begin the projection process in the order I actually project each statistic…

At-Bats: 575. He will be hitting near the top of the order and is the de facto starter. Unless he completely flops, he will be up all year, and with a weak Mariners lineup, has little chance of being bumped further down in the lineup.

Contact Rate: 81%. This is (at-bats – strikeouts) / at-bats. Since FanGraphs changed its formula for K% to use plate appearances in the denominator, my projection is not comparable. In his time with the Mariners last year, Ackley’s contact rate fell dramatically, to just 76%. He posted an 86% rate at Triple-A last season and an 82% at the level in 2010. You usually don’t see a hitter’s contact rate drop by that much upon his promotion to the majors, so I would expect some rebound. He also posted pretty good Contact% and SwStk% rates, which provides more reasons for optimism.

GB%/LD%/FB%: 42%/21%/37%. This is always a little tricky for young hitters as I have to rely on StatCorner’s minor league batted ball rates. This distribution is similar to what he did with the M’s last year, but with a few more grounders. Batted ball distributions are one of the more stable stats, so he should not vary wildly from the projection.

BABIP: .320. The two expected BABIP metrics I use spit out .315 and .321 marks, while he posted a .339 mark last year. However, he was less impressive in the minors, where BABIPs are usually higher. Given his solid line drive rate and decent power/speed mix, I think .320 is reasonable, but do not expect a repeat of .339, since he hits too many fly balls for someone with only mediocre power.

HR/FB Ratio: 7%. He posted a 6.2% mark last year with the Mariners. Unfortunately, the site I used to use to calculate minor league HR/FB ratios no longer exists. StatCorner does have a stat called HR/BIA, which includes all balls in the air as the denominator, rather than just fly balls. We could compare Ackley’s mark with the league average and then translate it to the comparable HR/FB ratio. When we do that, we get HR/FB rates of 2.7%, then 8.1%, and last 10.1%. Those last two marks came at Triple-A Tacoma, which boasts a left-handed home run park factor of 102 last year, a bit better than the 95 mark SAFECO held. Given the greater difficulty of hitting home runs in the majors and the worse ballpark, the HR/FB projection roulette wheel landed on 7%.

RBI and Runs: 75 and 80. Ackley hit third at the end of last season and the only current projected lineup site I have found also has him in the slot. Of course, this site has Franklin Gutierrez hitting second, so we shouldn’t take their word as gospel. I do think Ackley fits much better as a #2 hitter, so I would be surprised if he really got most of his at-bats in the three hole. That said, the Mariners offense is once again crap, so his combined RBI+Runs aren’t going to be too exciting. He has a good walk rate though, combined with meh power, which points to likely scoring more runs than he drives in.

SBs: 15. With pretty good triple totals and a relatively high Spd score in the Baseball Forecaster, it would appear Ackley has more speed than he is willing to use for thievery purposes. Prorating last year’s 6 steals over the 575 at-bats I project gets us to just 10. However, I think he will steal more frequently this season since he wasn’t caught at all last year, and if I didn’t make myself clear before, the Mariners offense still stinks.

That sums up all the numbers I manually project myself. They then get thrown into various formulas and spit out batting average and home runs. Here is my final projected batting line, along with Bill James and Fans projections for comparison.

Pod 575 0.273 12 75 80 15 81% 0.320 7% 42%/21%/37%
Bill James 616 0.255 11 60 82 14 82% 0.296 ?? ??
Fans 583 0.288 14 90 98 16 80% 0.337 ?? ??

Mike Podhorzer is the 2015 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Baseball Writer of the Year. He produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X 2.0: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.

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Jason P
10 years ago

I’d be curious to see what formulas you use to get your projections. I’m looking at possibly keeping Ackley at my IF position with Howie Kendrick as my 2B.